By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rusty K. Pang, Navy Office of Community Outreach —
KIEL, Germany – Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Beck, a native of North Fork, participated in the Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise with 18 other nations.
“I am looking forward to continuing my training to qualify in my air warfare qualification pin,” said Beck. “I used to be a civilian contractor with the Navy, but I wasn’t able to get my air warfare qualification. Being here right now gives me the opportunity to get what I wasn’t able to previously.”
BALTOPS includes sea, air and land assets. The multi-national exercise provides a unique training opportunity that fosters cooperative relationships critical to ensuring safety at sea and security on the world’s interconnected oceans. According to U.S. Navy officials, it is designed to improve training value for participants, enhance flexibility and interoperability, and demonstrate resolve among allied and partner forces in defending the Baltic Sea region.
Beck is an electronics technician aboard USS Mount Whitney.
Mount Whitney is named for the 14,505-foot peak in the Sierra-Nevada range in California, the highest point in the lower continental United States. It is the first ship in the U.S. Navy to bear this name. Mount Whitney serves as the Command Ship for Commander, SIXTH Fleet, Commander, Striking Force NATO and has a complement of 150 enlisted personnel, 12 officers and 150 Civilian Mariners from Military Sealift Command.
BALTOPS 2019 was planned and led by U.S. 2nd Fleet (C2F), as directed by U.S. Naval Forces Europe. C2F was re-established last summer as a response to the changing security environment, and BALTOPS 2019 marks the first time the renewed fleet will be operating in Europe.
Commander, C2F, Vice Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis, leads the exercise on behalf of U.S. Naval Forces Europe.
“As you all are aware, U.S. 2nd Fleet will be leading the exercise, but make no mistake, it will be founded on NATO and partner principles,” said Lewis. “Through BALTOPS 2019 and exercises like it, we strengthen our relationships and improve overall coordination and interoperability between allies and partners during both peace and times of conflict.”
The exercise began in Kiel, Germany with the pre-sail conference. At-sea training occured throughout the Baltic Sea, including events scheduled near Putlos, Germany; Saaremaa Island, Estonia; Riga, Latvia; Klaipeda, Lithuania and Ravlunda, Sweden. At the end of the exercise, most participating ships sailed to Kiel, Germany, to participate in the Kielerwochen Festival (Kiel Week).
Allied nations with ships and forces participating in BALTOPS 2019 include Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. NATO partner nations Finland and Sweden will also participate in the exercise.
Serving in the Navy means Beck is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Beck is most proud of being nominated for Senior Sailor of the Quarter.
“I like this ship and working hard,” said Beck. “To be be recognized for that means a lot to me. I am currently working in a maintenance role that is above my pay grade. The challenge is something I never expected to do. But, now it means so much that I can perform at that level.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Beck and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“I came back to active duty from the reserves, and I did that because active duty is more challenging,” said Beck. “Being active means that I wear many hats, which means more work. I don’t mind more work as long as I am growing and diversifying my skills. I get to see the world while working hard, which gives me opportunities than I would of had as a civilian.”